Super Rugby

Fleck : Stormers will be stronger in 2017 Super Rugby season

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Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck believes that his team will be a lot stronger in the 2017 Super Rugby season as they will have learned from 2016.

Fleck believes that the many lesssons they learned playing under the new format in 2016 can be applied in 2017 even though they stumbled spectacularly at the final hurdle in their quarterfinal hammering by the Chiefs

Fleck, who is presently in camp with the Western Province Currie Cup squad in Hermanus, tried to implement what he continually referred to as “fearless rugby” at the Stormers throughout the season, and while it came off in flashes, it was the team’s traditional strengths – setpiece and defence – that helped carry them through.

“We have learned a lot in this campaign as a squad and as management staff and we are very motivated to apply those lessons next year,” Fleck told the Stormers online magazine.

“We know that we are by no means the finished article, and there is massive ambition within this group to take our game to the next level and compete for the title next year.”

The Stormers finished well on top of the Africa 1 Conference and collected yet another conference title, but did so having faced no opposition from New Zealand along the way.

It proved to be their undoing in their quarterfinal clash against the Chiefs at Newlands when their campaign was brought to a screeching halt by a rampant Hamilton side who ran in try after try to soundly thump the home team 60-21.

“They blew us away in that first half and the tempo they played at just killed us,” Fleck said shortly after the defeat. “You have got to give credit where it is due, and everything they tried came off for them.”

Some have blamed that result on the lopsided Super Rugby conference system, while others have pointed to the Stormers’ inexperienced coaching staff and player personnel – ostensibly still a young side.

But with the same conference system in place the Stormers will face New Zealand opposition next year, and depending on the backroom decisions at the franchise, Fleck may have another shot to prove himself.

“I certainly believe that this group can get there, we have had a taste of it now and we are going to work incredibly hard. It is about picking up the pieces now and I certainly believe that this group of players can go in that direction,” Fleck said on the Stormers’ official site.

“Obviously, it is really disappointing and it is going to be a tough one to swallow, but for me as a coach it has been a great experience,” he said.

“I have had good leadership around me and the players have been fantastic in terms of their buy-in but I think we all realise that we are a fair bit off where we need to be and we have a lot of work to do next year.”

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